A Most Handsome Shinto O-Tanto, Around 300 years Old Circa 1720 With a Most Impressive and Beautiful Large Blade Used As A Powerful Close-Combat Small Sword and Suitable as a Post Combat 'Head Cutter'
All original Edo period koshirae with a superb urushi lacquer saya of dark red with black angular overstriping and black banding at the top section, a fine takebori tetsu sayajiri mount, with a shakudo and gold kozuka utility knife with decoration of takebori zodiac animals, including a deer, rabbit, dragon, pony, snake, dog, rat, phoenix, hare etc.
It has very nice o-sukashi tetsu tsuba with a fine tsuka with Higo school fuchi kashira of iron decorated with takebori whirling clouds. The menuki under the tsuka ito are super quality of a pure gold sun and a shakudo crescent moon.
The blade is long wide and very elegant with a great gunome hamon in beautiful polish. It has mighty strong thickness and size perfectly suitable as a samurai's close combat weapon, but also to double up, post combat, as a samurai's 'head cutter', if a kubikiri a solely dedicated head cutter, used by an attendant, was not available.
Samurai usually had to chop off their enemy’s head in order to prove to their daimyo or master that they actually killed the right person, not a woman or child.
Additionally collecting more heads meant getting more stipend and promotion.
However, after chopping the head, the samurai would always clean and put some light make up to the face to pay their respect to the dead person.
At the same time, every samurai also usually put incense within the inside their helmets knowing that they may get killed and their head's odour, due to the stress of battle, must not offend their killer.
In situations when the samurai did not have time to chop off the enemy’s head, they then used to cut off the upper lip (to distinguish if the head is male or female).
Tanto first began to appear in the Heian period, however these blades lacked artistic qualities and were purely weapons. In the Early Kamakura period high quality tanto with artistic qualities began to appear, and the famous Yoshimitsu (the greatest tanto maker in Japanese history) began his forging. Tanto production increased greatly around the Muromachi period and then dropped off in the Shinto period. Shinto period tanto are quite rare. Tanto were mostly carried by Samurai; commoners did not generally carry them. Women sometimes carried a small tanto called a kaiken in their obi for self defence.It was sometimes worn as the shoto in place of a wakizashi in a daisho, especially on the battlefield. Before the 16th century it was common for a Samurai to carry a tachi and a tanto as opposed to a katana and a wakizashi.
Blade 35.5 cm inches long, 3cm wide at the habaki, overall in the saya it is 51 cm long.
A solely dedicated kubikiri would normally have its cutting edge on the inside, and carried by attendants of high ranking samurai, but curiously the kubikiri would also be used for bonsai trimming.
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